What to Watch: Trisha’s TV Dinners, Barbie on Cupcake Wars and Food Network’s 20th Birthday Party Special

by in Shows, November 8th, 2013

Food Network BirthdayThis weekend, learn the secrets to a quick meal from Ree, go back in time with retro TV dinners from Trisha, see Barbie-inspired cupcakes in the making and watch Food Network’s 20th Birthday Party, a special look back on the history of the Food Network, hosted by Mo Rocca.

On Sunday morning, Rachael shows you a week’s worth of recipes for spicy-food lovers. Then Guy cooks his favorite cut of steak. And Damaris delves into game-day grub on Southern at Heart. In the evening, start the competition with all-new episodes of Guy’s Grocery Games and Restaurant Express, plus a special Thanksgiving episode of Iron Chef America.

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Farm vs. Bar Food: Which Restaurant Divided Concept Did You Like Better?

by in Shows, November 7th, 2013

Restaurant DividedAfter years of unprofitability and a staggering debt of almost $50,000, the three co-owners of Maggie’s Farm in Baltimore faced a crucial crossroads that would ultimately determine if and how the eatery would ever see future success. One owner, Laura Merino, was adamant in her belief that her restaurant needed to stick to its farm-to-table concept to have any chance at future success, while her partners — the chef, Andrew Weinzirl, who’s also her fiancé, and the general manager, Matthew Weaver — maintained that an all-new Southern-skewed concept would be most beneficial in relaunching Maggie’s. Before he could help the owners come together in agreement, Rocco DiSpirito had to first divide them further, and the only way to do so was to begin a Restaurant Divided takeover.

Working with his design team, Rocco split the space at Maggie’s into two eateries and let diners and restaurant critics speak to which restaurant they’d most want to return. Laura ran the made-over, garden-inspired Maggie’s Farm that featured its signature fresh cuisine; Andrew and Matthew opened the speakeasy-bar hybrid Speakgreazy, a red-walled space with plush seating serving Southern favorites. While both concepts proved able to attract guests and dish out quality plates, 25 percent more customers were more willing to return to Laura’s restaurant, Maggie’s, than they were to the guys’ Speakgreazy. Knowing this and having dined at both establishments, Rocco ultimately revealed that the original business, Maggie’s, would afford the group the best chance at lasting viability.

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Making Kid-Friendly Chili (There’s a Trick)

by in Family, November 7th, 2013

How to Make Kid-Friendly ChiliI must have made chili 10 times, all different ways — chicken chili, chili con carne, chili with corn, chili without corn — and the kids wouldn’t go near it. Until I took a tip from “Fancy Nancy” and made it, well, fancy (and until I also eased up on the cumin, which I suspect was an element that led to previous failures).

It’s the presentation for knee-high critics that often counts the most. You won’t ever find me sculpting scooters out of hot dogs or sharks from watermelons. There are three kids under 5 at my house and I’d need a lot more free time in my life to pull that off. But doing this wasn’t difficult. To make your chili “fancy,” simply spoon and layer it with cheddar cheese into small glasses. Repeat, serve and bask in the success of the moment.

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Celebrating My Favorite Fall Ingredient: Coconut Oil

by in Food Network Chef, November 7th, 2013

Coconut OilSome of you know that I live in San Diego, which I love. You may also know (if you read my post on pumpkin puree) that I feel a little left out of the fall rituals that I cherished during my years living back East — pulling out the cardigans, folding up and putting away all my “summer clothes,” switching to roasted dinners, eating winter squash (I just had perfect watermelon, and it’s November!). But I had a glimmer of a cold front arriving the other day. I hopped out of the shower, grabbed my jar of coconut oil, and it was solid. You see, coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F, so it has been probably 10 months since I’ve seen solid coconut oil in my home. I can officially join the rest of the country celebrating autumn. Solid coconut oil is my personal version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte — it lets me know it’s OK to start my holiday shopping.

Coconut oil is perhaps the most purchased and used oil in my house, because I use it in the kitchen and as a beauty product; I have one jar in the pantry and one in my bathroom. This versatile oil is solid at comfortable room temperature, but its low melting point means it is usually on the brink of melting. This is actually a huge plus, because it can act like solid fats (butter, shortening) in a cool room, but just adding a few more degrees of heat will enable you to treat it like almost any other oil (with an amazing subtle taste). So if you want to cook with it as a solid (try replacing some of the shortening or butter in crust), then you would likely want to chill it a little in the refrigerator (or just keep your kitchen cold). If you want to cook with coconut oil as a flavorful substitute for other oils (try sauteing carrots in coconut oil with some shallots and chipotle powder), then you can just spoon out the oil and let it melt in a pan — or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds. To use coconut oil as a beauty product, I just scoop out a little and place it in my palm, where it melts from my skin’s heat within seconds.

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Comforting Cauliflower — Fall Fest

by in In Season, November 7th, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower RisottoIt’s November, and for all we know, you’re already knee-deep in beef stew, spaghetti and meatballs, and chicken noodle soup. We get it. Fall means comfort: stews so tender the meat is falling off the bone and casseroles so cozy you get knocked into a nap at the last bite.

Here’s the thing: Comfort food doesn’t need to be synonymous with meat. Believe it or not, even the most unassuming veggies have the power to cure us of all our woes. Leave it to cauliflower — and these recipes — to bring you all kinds of comfort this season.

Stir a pot of risotto to sultry completion, this time with roasted cauliflower florets and sliced almonds adding that extra crunch. Food Network Magazine’s Roasted Cauliflower Risotto (pictured above) can work as a rich main dish, or as a smaller side.

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#TBT: Ina Garten

by in Food Network Chef, November 7th, 2013

Ina GartenIt’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.

Before Ina Garten was known as the Barefoot Contessa, she was working in Washington, D.C., at America’s most famous address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. While at the White House, she focused on nuclear energy policy; it wasn’t until later that she learned she was destined for a life in food. In 1978 Ina and her husband, Jeffrey, bought Barefoot Contessa, a specialty food shop in the Hamptons on Long Island. After years under Ina’s leadership, the once-tiny store had been transformed into a thriving business with dozens of employees and a stellar local reputation. She eventually sold Barefoot Contessa in 1996, but the nickname stuck with her, so much so that her first Food Network show premiered with that title in 2005.

When it comes to cooking, Ina has a passion for creating feasts that are at once familiar and fancy with the best, freshest ingredients available, which is something she’s tried to instill in her fans as well. Each week on Barefoot Contessa, Ina highlights a theme, event or ingredient that’s particularly relevant to her, and she features it in recipes that are not only accessible and easy to prepare but deliciously satisfying as well. Some of her most lauded dishes include Engagement Roast ChickenMac and Cheese and Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, but she’s known to create dressed-up plates as well, like Salmon with Lentils and Croissant Bread Pudding. No matter the cuisine and meal, however, Ina’s sure to incorporate can-do techniques and handy tips to help viewers re-create her recipes with ease.

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Restaurant Revisited: His Way or the Highway at The Windsor 75

by in Shows, November 6th, 2013

Restaurant: Impossible“This might be a lost cause,” Robert Irvine said while working with the Calos family at their seven-year-old restaurant, The Windsor 75. Owners Therese and George and their two sons needed Robert’s help to not only update what he deemed “blah” decor and improve their menu but also ease the tensions and end the bickering between them. With just two days to work and a $10,000 budget, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team accomplished their mission to relaunch The Windsor 75 and set up the Caloses with the tools they need for future success. FN Dish checked in with Therese a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery is doing today.

Since The Windsor 75 reopened, Therese says, business has increased nearly 10 percent, and they tweaked their hours and offerings, now closing on Monday and serving breakfast only on the weekends. To her, perhaps the most-impressive aspect of the transformation is the updated design. “It is open, airy, and filled with life and hope for the future,” Therese tells FN Dish. “Truly words cannot express how we feel about the decor. Our hearts are bursting! There are too many wonderful elements.”

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Best 5 Thanksgiving Stuffings

by in Holidays, Recipes, November 6th, 2013

Sourdough Bread StuffingSecond perhaps only to the centerpiece turkey on Thanksgiving, stuffings and dressings are some of the most-craved and comforting dishes on your Turkey Day table. Whether you stuff your bird or not, these bread-based casseroles are both simple to prepare and versatile enough that you can suit them to your family’s tastes and whatever ingredients you have on hand. If you’re cooking for a few vegetarians this year, a naturally meatless stuffing will surely please them and your meat-eating guests alike. And if you happen to find yourself with a few extra carrots or celery stalks, put them to good use in a stuffing, as vegetables of all kinds work well with nearly all types of bread bakes. Check out Food Network’s top-five stuffings below to find celebration-worthy recipes that you’ll want to add to your Thanksgiving menu.

5. Homemade Three-Meat Stuffing — Packed with chopped hard-boiled eggs, bell peppers and olives, this pork-, beef- and sausage-based stuffing boasts more meat than it does white bread and will feed up to a whopping 14 people.

4. Holiday Cornbread Stuffing — Follow the Neelys’ lead and take advantage of a deliciously simple shortcut: store-bought cornbread stuffing mix. Pat and Gina combine this ready-to-go good with crispy bacon and crunchy pecans for texture, plus fresh vegetables and herbs to round out the dish.

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